AN AGGRESSIVE angler who assaulted and lied to an Environment Agency enforcement officer after being caught without a rod licence has been found guilty in court.

Steve Beckett was using three rods so needed a double rod licence at the time and pushed the EA officer.

But he still received just £410 in fines and costs, the same as an ordinary single offence and the angler co-operating fully.

Beckett, 30, from Mexborough, South Yorkshire, threatened and assaulted the officer and also refused to give his address.

Enforcement officers are considered in law to be the same as police constables.

Assaulting and obstructing one – in addition to his fishing violations – has left Beckett with ‘recordable offences’ on the police database.

Beckett was initially approached on October 2, 2016, as part of routine checks at Caistor Fisheries in Lincolnshire (pictured).

A search of the EA’s database revealed Beckett had no valid fishing licence, despite him insisting that he did and his refusal to give his address hampered further checks.

Last year’s rod licence – Beckett should have had two of these to cover his three rods. Now there’s a three rod option too.

 

Beckett became aggressive when challenged, physically pushing the enforcement officer away – and the police were called.

Appearing at Lincoln Magistrates Court, Beckett pleaded guilty.

Rod licence offence reactions

Dilip Sarkar, policy officer for the Angling Trust, said: “There is always inconsistency in sentencing nationally, no matter what offence is involved.

“This is why I addressed the Magistrates’ Association last autumn and this February had the front cover and lead article in their monthly journal.

“Since then, sentences have generally and noticeably increased, so this result is unusual,” he added.

Last year in England, the EA checked more than 62,000 rod licences and prosecuted more than 1,900 anglers for rod and line offences, resulting in fines and costs in excess of £500,000.

EA officers are on the prowl, looking for offenders.

Joanne Kay, EA fisheries team leader, said: “Not only was Beckett fishing illegally, he also assaulted a law enforcement officer who was doing his duty to protect the sport, legitimate anglers and the environment.

“It makes no sense to have the embarrassment of a court visit, a criminal conviction and a bill for potentially thousands of pounds when an annual licence is such value for money and so easy to buy.”

Licences were revised ready for the April 2017 re-launch to include a new three-rod option for anglers, including carp specialists.

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